“The Garden of Skills” is an innovative project, aiming at associating on the same site an agroforestry garden, in the middle of which has been set up an activity and training center in the fields of agroecology, agroforestry, handicrafts, and micro-project management.

Eswatini NGO Fundzisa Live acquired a one hectare plot of land in September 2020 in Malanti, a village located 20km away from Piggs Peak on the road to the capital, Mbabane, to set up this project, in association and with the financial support of French NGO Designing Hope.

  • Agriculture Component
  • A garden located 20km from the town of Piggs Peak

Designing Hope has been established in Piggs Peak since 2005, where it has forged important links with the regional hospital and the support group for HIV-positive and vulnerable women, which has been structured as an NGO since 2012, as Fundzisa Live.

After having managed several community gardens in urban and peri-urban areas in 3 neighborhoods of the city, the Garden of Skills marks a turning point for the two NGOs, who are moving their activities 20 km from the city center, to Malanti, a rural community located along the busy main road that connects Piggs Peak to Mbabane. Since most of the women do not live in Piggs Peak itself, it is very easy for them to travel to Malanti, which is very well served by minibuses and shared cabs.

Recognized for their work in nearby schools, Designing Hope and Fundzisa Live were offered this land to set up a training and demonstration center for agroecological techniques. The outlets directly benefit the community of Malanti.

Designing Hope and Fundzisa Live will still keep part of their activities in Piggs Peak, as they obtained from the hospital management the right to build a 40m2 room within its premises, next to the HIV-AIDS testing center. This office in town guarantee a permanent link with the needy patients of the hospital, as this is also used as consultation room for young patients, and as  place of distribution of food aid for the most needy.

  • Transform this land into a fertile and productive “Forest Garden” 

The Forest garden is a principle developed in agroforestry, consisting in associating trees, chosen for their ability to fertilize the soil, with market garden crops. The tree species are varied, chosen for the production of wood, the production of nutritious leaves for humans (Moringa), usable as forage, for fruit production, but also for their ability to fertilize the soil, reduce evaporation and allow market gardening in an optimized setting.

Above, preparation of the land to accommodate the growing beds.

The land is ideal to serve as an example, as it resembles the reality of land on which rural and disadvantaged people in Eswatini live: a mountainside site, with some outcrops of rock. Any challenge met on this site can therefore easily be duplicated on small family plots in the Hlohlo region.

  • A useful garden for the community

A 300 m2 greenhouse has been set up to develop a seedling production activity, and reproducible seeds, in particular for the gardens of the association’s partner schools located on the outskirts of Piggs Peak.

The vegetable production will also feed the baskets distributed to patients at Piggs Peak Hospital.

Above, distribution of food packages at Piggs Peak Hospital.

  • activities & knowledge sharing COMPONENT
  • An activity and training center

The Garden of Skills is not only an experimental garden, it is also a place of training and learning, in the fields of sustainable agriculture and nutrition, on the one hand, but also of craft skills, and administrative and digital knowledge on the other hand.

In order to help women acquire know-how and find outlets to support their families, a workshop, including two large rooms and a central patio, has been set up to receive training and craft activities, according to needs.

Above, a sewing workshop being installed. 5 industrial and 15 domestic machines.
  • Sewing school uniforms

The project will allow the women to engage in local projects, such as the supply of school uniforms in order to continue the partnership with the 5 schools supported by Designing Hope. They will also be able to explore other markets, such as the making of professional outfits, in the field of health for example, by promoting the close links they have established with the hospital.

The machines will also be used for the training of new women (regular training sessions), and the implication in specific creative projects.

Above, distribution of school uniforms to underprivileged children in the region’s schools
  • Learn how to transform and preserve garden products

The activity and training center also includes a kitchen for processing garden products and learning recipes chosen for their nutritional qualities.

This kitchen can be used for cooking classes to educate visitors about eating healthy food, using vegetables from the garden.

Workshops of transformation and conservation of the garden production will be proposed, with the adequate material at disposal (dryer to preserve vegetables, canned food), which could also be shared with the community of Malanti.

The kitchen will also be used to prepare meals for women and youth in training.

Above, the open kitchen of the Garden of Skills, for the nutrition classes.
  • Educational approach

Training “outside the walls” (agroecology, environmental awareness, nutrition) will be offered in the partner schools, in addition to the visits to the garden.

The investment in a vehicle, will allow to ensure a better follow-up of the projects, to program regular interventions in particular, in the schools located at 20km around Piggs Peak, supported by the NGO.

Above, activities on the theme of nutrition organized by Designing Hope in South Africa.

  • Day care center, nursery school and preschool

A facility aiming to ensure the care of young children of women attending the “Garden of Skills” is being designed. Initially, it will be a “drop-in day care center” offering a one-time care solution for women in training or working on the site, which could evolve into a nursery school and a preschool.

In Eswatini, there are currently few early childhood facilities, which limits women’s opportunities for empowerment and professionalization. In addition, it slows down the learning of children who do not start school until the age of 6.

They have to get used to the school environment and to the English language, which most of the time they have never used before. This early schooling will allow them to enter elementary school more easily and better prepared, thus improving their chances of academic and social success.

  • Solidarity tourism

A housing unit has been set up for volunteers of the NGO, who wish to share their know-how on short stays. (skills in crafts, management, nutrition within the framework of “voluntourism”).

A small store with handicraft products will also be set up, with the possibility of distributing processed products from the garden. This shop could be located on the roadside, a very common practice in Eswatini, allowing to attract passing customers.

– Other possible medium-term outlets:

The valorization of the kitchen and the productions of the garden could also lead to the installation of a service of meal for the tourists taking the road of Mbabane to Piggs Peak.

Other small cottages could also be set up to develop solidarity tourism and constitute an additional resource for the self-financing of the center over time. The visitor will be able to take part in the life of the NGO  according to his skills, by sharing his time with a visit of the area.

Above, chalet where volunteers are welcomed.

The Garden of Skills is the concept of a locally managed activity center, at the service of the community, to encourage sustainable development initiatives (agro-ecology, agro-forestry, environmental protection), training in traditional activities (sewing, small crafts) and the provision of skills in new technologies, in countries where despite poverty, most families have access to a connected smartphone.

A project supported by the Bon Marché Rive Gauche (main partner),
with additional funding from the Raja Foundation (winner of the Raja Awards 2020)
and The Ivory Foundation

  • Discover below the news of the Garden of Skills!

Embroidery of school uniform logos

Embroidery of school uniform logosThanks to the purchase of a professional embroidery machine, the women of the Malanti Garden of Skills in Eswatini now have access to new opportunities for their work. There are very few companies in the country … Read More

Sewing work jackets at the Garden of Skills

With the support of Keit, a specialist in professional workwear in France, a jacket and trousers have been designed and a pattern created to offer women an additional outlet for their sewing skills.

The Garden of Skills acquires a professional embroidery machine 

To help Garden of Skills compete in the local market for the production of school uniforms, Designing Hope has invested in a professional embroidery machine that will enable them to embroider the school emblems on site. This service is not very common … Read More

Dance training in Malanti 

At the request of the Malanti community, young people gather every afternoon after school for a dance activity inspired by traditional local dances. The garden has been created in a spirit of openness to the community, and this meeting helps … Read More

Malanti Sewing Training

Professional sewing training is one of the main components of the Garden of Skills. Patricia Khumalo is the trainer at Fundzisa Live. She is responsible for a group of 8 young women from the Malanti community from the community of Malanti, … Read More

Wood training at Malanti 

The Garden of Skills has been equipped with a craft workshop: the “Craft and Upcycling centre”, with all the tools needed to work with wood and metal in particular. Two young people have been trained in woodworking, focusing on the … Read More

The Malanti nursery

The Garden of skills has recently set up a new childcare facility capable of accommodating 15 young children aged 3 to 6. Inspired by nursery classes, the room is set up according to the principles of Montessori workshops, designed to … Read More

Sewing Training in Malanti

Patricia and Futhi are in charge of the sewing courses at the Garden of Skills. One of the aims of the training is to master the sewing of school tunics, which make up most of the compulsory uniforms for young … Read More

Sewing training in Malanti

A new group of women has been trained in sewing by Patricia and Futhi, who are in charge of the workshop in Malanti. The programme includes the creation of cotton bags to store seeds and games inspired by Montessori concepts … Read More

Creation of work jackets for the Garden of skills by the women of the Malanti community, Eswatini

We wanted to create a specific identity for the Garden of skills around its emblem, the Lucky Flower, which contributed to its financing. Thus, aprons and work jackets designed by our partner Keit were sewn by the women on site. … Read More

Making pants with the sewing workshop at the Garden of skills, Eswatini

Among the new patterns provided by the Keit company are also the pants for the boys’ uniform. This is a difficult production to set up as the pants are more classic (gray for all schools) and therefore it is difficult … Read More

First cycle of training in sewing and uniform making at the Garden of skills, Eswatini

The Garden of skills includes a sewing workshop to train women from the community of Malanti, and women identified at the Piggs Peak Hospital, of which Dessine l’Espoir is a partner. The first round of sewing training began with a … Read More

Sewing and distribution of school uniforms in Malanti

The women of Malanti, newly trained in sewing at the Garden of Skills, made 40 uniforms that were distributed to vulnerable children in the two schools close to the centre. This was an opportunity for the people of Malanti to discover … Read More

Meal preparation at the Garden of skills, Malanti, Eswatini

Every day, Speh, the Garden of skills cook, prepares a meal for the beneficiaries of the garden (group of women in charge of the vegetable garden, women in training for sewing…). The meal is composed of simmered vegetables accompanied by … Read More

Puppets show on the occasion of the inauguration of the Garden of Skills, Malanti, Eswatini

On the occasion of the inauguration of the Garden of Skills, the giant puppets made by Designing Hope association and Les Grandes Personnes performed for the guests of Malanti. A new troupe was formed in Malanti, involving young people from … Read More

Dance show on the occasion of the inauguration of the Garden of Skills, Malanti, Eswatini

On the occasion of the inauguration of the Garden of Skills, about fifty children rehearsed a dance show in traditional costumes, some of which were accompanied by the women in charge of the garden. At the request of the community, … Read More

Visit to the site of the Garden of Skills, Eswatini during its inauguration

On the occasion of the inauguration of the Garden of Skills, a visit of the vegetable garden, the greenhouse, the Teen-ji (educational garden for children) and the sewing workshop was made with the members of the community in order to … Read More

Inauguration of the Garden of Skills, Malanti, Eswatini

The inauguration of the Garden of Skills took place on 25 August 2022. At this occasion, Designing Hope invited the elders and representatives of the Malanti community. Also present were the deputy of the district of the region, the French … Read More

Start of the sewing course at the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

It’s D-day for the sewing training activity in Malanti! The machines are ready, the training programme well prepared. The eight women of Malanti are getting ready to master the overlockers and industrial machines so that they will soon be able … Read More

Welcome of a cook at the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

The Garden of Skills welcomes a new recruit in charge of the kitchen where she will be in charge of developing the nutrition programme of Designing Hope, using in particular the educational sheets prepared by the association.  Indeed, the garden … Read More

Activities with the children in the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

Since the beginning of June, the Garden of Skills has been welcoming children from the Malanti community. They are divided into four groups, and come once a week from Monday to Thursday, in turn. They come after school and meet … Read More

Reinforcement around the mandala in the Garden of Skills

The winter in southern Africa is particularly dry, making it an ideal time to reinforce the infrastructure before the rains start. The Malanti Garden of Skills is located on a hillside, and the grass covering the path is particularly slippery … Read More

Construction of a chicken coop at the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

The team from Wendy Lane, the company that built the wooden houses on the Garden of Skills site, came to install a chicken coop. This henhouse is designed on the principle of an enclosure separated into 2 plots, used in … Read More

First planting on the new beds in the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

After enriching the soil with compost, manure and biochar produced with the support of The Ivory Foundation, the women of Fundzisa Live planted the first crops on the new cultivation beds. Various vegetables (carrots, lettuce, spinach, radishes) were planted in … Read More

Preparation of sauces with vegetables from the Garden of Skills to improve the recipes, Eswatini

The Garden of Skills is developing into a training centre, including nutrition training, based on a model of food self-sufficiency. To this end, posters containing valuable nutritional information have been put up on the walls of the kitchen. In addition, … Read More

Seedlings in the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

Today, the women of the Garden of Skills planted peppers, beets, lettuce and spinach on the beds of the “Teenji” (Teen G for youth garden), the garden in front of the workshop, half of which is used for educational activities … Read More

Harvesting Jugo Beans at the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

The women of the Garden of Skills harvested Jugo Beans which they then prepared with a traditional recipe. Jugo beans are beans grown in Eswatini and have a taste similar to peanuts. Once cooked in water they are ready to … Read More

Harvesting and preparing sweet potatoes in the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

The women in charge of the maintenance of the Garden of Skills have begun harvesting the sweet potatoes planted a few months earlier on one of the first plots of land set up on the new Malanti site. To add … Read More

Creation of new crop beds at the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

In order to develop a model of food self-sufficiency in the Garden of Skills, the women of Fundzisa Live in charge of the garden prepare new crop beds every week to make the most of the cultivated area. A hard … Read More

The local team at the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

The local Fundzisa Live team, with Lydia, leader of the Malanti community, and the Designing Hope team.  

The Garden of Skills is up and running, Eswatini

The access road and the construction of the Garden of Skills are now complete and everything is ready for the activities of the centre:  A 100m2 workshop, an open kitchen, a sanitary block, the director’s house, the volunteers’ house, a … Read More

The greenhouse of the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

The greenhouse at the Garden of Skills was set up by the deaf and hard of hearing youngsters supported by The Ivory Foundation in Lesotho, modelled on the one they built for there school two years ago.  This greenhouse, covered … Read More

The open kitchen at the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

In order to enhance the value of vegetables from the garden and encourage women to transform them into nutrient-rich recipes, the kitchen was designed as an open space, which can accommodate groups in training at the centre. 12 thematic panels … Read More

GreenJo beds from the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

In order to map the land, and to plan the crops, the beds at the Garden of Skills were named so that the women could better identify them. The “GreenJo” beds are located between the Greenhouse and the “Jojo tank” … Read More

Preparing the land for the central kitchen in the garden of Malanti

For almost a year, the Fundzisa Live association has been recruiting men and women from the Malanti community to participate in the setting up of the garden of skills. While the workshop has just been set up, it is now … Read More

Planting of fruit and fertilizer trees in Malanti, Eswatini.

The garden of Skills in Malanti will be developed according to the principles of agroforestry. The women have started to plant fertilizer trees and fruit trees on the land in alternation, and the cultivated plots will be placed between the … Read More

The garden of skills workshop is built in Malanti, Eswatini.

The skills garden workshop is built! Now the electrical equipment and connections have to be installed, and the sewing machines can be set up to train the women of Malanti in sewing. Indeed, the workshop was previously in Piggs Peak, … Read More

Construction of the workshop at the Garden of Skills in Malanti, Eswatini.

 Now that the foundations are in place, Wendy Lane’s technicians are hard at work setting up the sewing workshop and training center for the Garden of Skills. The 15m by 6m structure has been prepared in the workshop for assembly … Read More

Setting up the workshop in Malanti, Eswatini

The workshop structure is now in place! The technicians are now working on the interior. The roof has been lined with an insulating layer to reduce the temperature in summer and provide better insulation in winter. Eswatini is a mountainous … Read More

Fondation of a workshop in Malanti, Eswatini.

The Malanti workshop and training center is a building 15m long and 6m wide. The central part consists of an open patio, which provides a shaded and ventilated area to work outside, which is appreciated in summer. The ground has … Read More

Cultivating the greenhouse of the Garden of Skills – Eswatini

The women of Fundzisa Live have undertaken to prepare the cultivation beds inside the greenhouse of the Garden of Skills in Malanti. They put into practice the technique of “lasagna beds”. They collected materials from the field, as well as … Read More

Building the greenhouse of Malanti, Eswatini.

Following their experience in Lesotho, the deaf and hard of hearing young people from St Monica’s farm in Lesotho came to help the women of Malanti to build a greenhouse similar to the one they built at the school in … Read More

Strengthening the access road to the Garden of Skills, Eswatini

The women of Fundiza Live called on people from the community of Malanti to help them reinforce the access road to the garden. Indeed, after having excavated the ground, the realization of a cement gutter all along the road and … Read More

Development of the access road to the Garden of Skills in Malanti, Eswatini.

After the intervention of a bulldozer to create an access road to the garden from the main road, the women undertook the realization of a gutter all along the road with underground pipes in order to evacuate the water during … Read More

Sweet potato plantation in Malanti

The women in charge of the Malanti garden have planted sweet potato crops. These are traditionally used on sloping land to avoid drainage and to cover areas that are difficult to cultivate as long plots, because of the presence of … Read More

The Garden of Skills offers a typical Eswatini landscape

The Malanti garden has a rather exceptional view of a valley in an area where the indigenous vegetation has been preserved from the intensive eucalyptus cultivation that is a threat to biodiversity in other parts of the country.

Planting maize using the “Zaï” technique in Malanti, Eswatini

The women in charge of the Garden of Skills in Malanti have planted corn. To do this, they followed the curve of the land without clearing it all, using the Zaï technique, which consists of digging basins 20 to 40 … Read More

First planting beds in the Garden of Skills, Malanti

The first cultivation beds have been set up at the Malanti knowledge garden in Eswatini by the women in charge of the garden. These beds are cultivated strips that follow the slope of the land and are 1m/1m20 wide. Onions, … Read More

Development of the Garden of Skills, Malanti (Eswatini)

The mountainous terrain of Malanti has necessitated the digging of an access road to reach the top of the garden. Before the heavy summer rains arrive, a long cemented gully has been dug along the path, with drainage systems running … Read More

Making an Aromatic Plants Garden in Malanti (Eswatini)

At the Garden of Skills in Malanti – Eswatini, the women in charge of the garden improvised a spiral garden using stones from the garden. They used the stones that are naturally present in this very mountainous region of Eswatini, … Read More

The Mandala of the Garden of Skills at Malanti, Eswatini

The women in charge of the Garden of Skills in Eswatini have created a mandala, a garden in the shape of flowers with cultivation plots in shape of petals. This mandala forms a roundabout at the top of the access … Read More